I seriously had no intention of relating this column to the previous one in any way when I wrote that one. Not, mind you, that they technically DO relate, but I can’t ignore the impression would be easy to take. If you recall, the last entry was me being a bit moody about the prevalence of toxic folks on line that can’t be reasoned with, and prefer hateful habits of thought to open-mindedness. This one coincidentally provides a nice bookend to the melancholy tone in that one.
I’ve written before, of course, on more than one occasion on the subject of the “bathroom predator” canard our opponents throw at trans people, too. This week I got to see what those two look like mashed up together and thrown back at you.
So, thee backstory goes like this: Visiting my local Walmart on Sunday (which, regrettably, is an almost daily habit in my life) I had need of the Ladies Room and unhesitatingly partook. Unknown to me at the time, the young lady exiting as i entered was the daughter of a particularly bitter woman of my acquaintance (once went to the same church where she was the pianist) but I wouldn’t have thought anything of it if I’d realized. Later that night, a true friend of mine gave me a heads-up – that same woman had started a thread on her Facebook page describing how incensed she was and blustering about dire consequences.
Over the course of 80 or more replies folks described their shock and outrage that such a thing (a “crazy man” who is “confused” and “crossdressing” is allowed to “violate” this teen girl by entering an empty room she was leaving. As you might imagine, all manner of ignorance was on display, topped off by Bitter Woman first professing to be trying to handle in a “Christian manner” then speculating someone ought to (falsely) cry rape when the opportunity arose.
Naturally, being the shy and retiring type, I toke my friend’s screen grabs (with her permission) and posted them on my wall in order to call out the ignorance and lies and to make the participants (among them a niece on my spouse’s side and my brother’s daughter and son) own their stupidity. Hilarity ensued. (Capped off by Bitter Woman’s even more bitter mother confronting me face-to-face in a public place and finding she’d bitten off far more than she could chew – remind me to tell you the story sometime)
I won’t weigh this commentary down with more details except to reference the one that leads to the point I wish to make. A friend of mine from another message board where we’ve both posted for over a decade has been encouraging me to get out of my home town and move to a more trans friendly area. His exact advice was “get the f— out!”This friend ask me, after I’d spent a big chunk of two different days calling out my fan club he asked me “So this is the place you want to stay?”
The truth is I do have mixed feelings – it would certainly be easier to get out of the Bible Belt, despite the strong resistance to such a move from my immediate family. But ultimately, as I told my friend, if we all cut bait and run when oppression arises, what happens to those we leave behind who CAN’T run away? Do I, in good conscience, turn them over to the tender mercies of even more empowered and arrogant bullies? I have said a few times now in this space that it is ours, in this decade, to step into the light and blaze the train for the rising generation, just as others came before us and cut through an even darker jungle than we face. How can I say to anyone “Coming out is hard, but it’s time we stopped cowering” and then run away from what is, honestly, a pretty weak challenge (so far)?
No. I will stay, for now, and I will stand up and speak out. I will not be bullied and I will confront ignorance with truth wherever I find it. I consider it my calling.
Image by: BK